Could the Argentine be on the move to the Premier League if he exits the Camp Nou?
Former star Hristo Stoichkov has claimed Barcelona’s ‘mistreatment’ of Lionel Messi could see the Argentine leave the club ‘through the back door’ with Chelsea keeping tabs on his current situation.
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Messi was left out of the Barcelona XI for their 1-0 loss against David Moyes’ Real Sociedad and the three time Balon d’Or winner also missed an open training session on Monday which the club claim was because he’s suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis.
However, Messi’s exclusion came amid reports in the Catalan press that the Argentine had argued twice with Barcelona boss Luis Enrique since his return from the La Liga winter break.
Chelsea are believed to be closely monitoring developments with Messi hinting, according to parts of the Spanish press, at the possibility of an exit through is social media activity.
The footballing icon followed Chelsea’s official Instagram account on Monday as well as those of Blues stars Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis. Manchester City, another reported suitor, is also the only other club Messi follows on the picture sharing site.
Speaking on Radio show Al Primer Toque, and quoted by ESPN, former Barca star Hristo Stoichkov claimed it was the club’s poor treatment of Messi that was to blame for the current issues.
“They have not known how to look after Messi,” Stoichkov said. “Tell me any foreign player who has not ended up leaving Barca through the back door.”
Messi and Neymar were both allowed to return late from their winter breaks meaning they were unprepared for Barca’s trip to Scoiedad. An issue which Stoichkov says is entirely of the the club’s making.
“Messi and Neymar are not the guilty parties, but those who gave them holidays,” Stoichkov said. “All players should be treated equally. If you give two days extra holidays, then play them and they get injured, that’s a disaster.”
This latest speculation on Messi’s future comes amid a growing sense of crisis at the club with with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta getting sacked after criticising president Josep Maria Bartomeu and then Barca legend Carlos Puyol resigning in an apparent protest.
“For me Bartomeu is not a president, he is a civil servant,” Stoichkov said. “He was parachuted into the job because a coward [predecessor as president Sandro Rosell] left. The only thing he understands is basketball, he knows little about football.”